THERESA May’s election campaign is turning into a personality cult. Something about this is rather puzzling: how do you build a personality cult around someone who doesn’t have one?
Search teams have been out with the sniffer dogs, the helicopters have been circling in the sky, but they have all returned empty-handed. They hunted high and low but couldn’t find any trace of a personality.
Yet just look at Theresa’s battle-bus. On the side are the words: “Theresa May: For Britain” and “Strong, stable leadership in the national interest”, with Mrs Maybe’s signature underneath. Is something missing there, perhaps? Ah, yes – the word ‘Conservative’. It is there but you need a magnifying glass to find those tiny letters on the door.
This suggests that Theresa is bigger than her party; or it suggests that she thinks that being branded with the ‘nasty party’ – as she once labelled her lot – might not be good for her image.
She’s becoming very presidential, isn’t she? Impatient with detractors or even anyone who might just want to ask her a question – you know, a real question and not one she has approved beforehand. Mrs Maybe did expose herself to the political rigours of The One Show, yet even as they bowled soft-toy questions at her, she looked as if that BBC sofa had been stuffed with drawing pins.
As for all that “strong and stable” business, the slogan seems ridiculous, but perhaps it will work. The idea is that most people don’t take much notice of politics, so Theresa keeps saying that to get her message across. Or until she is blue in the face. Or ever bluer in the face.
But here’s the thing: just imagine if I went around saying: “Hard as nails, me.” I could repeat that slogan endlessly and people would still look at me and laugh. Or kick sand in my face before I could get the words out.
Personality is such an odd commodity in politics. Jeremy Corbyn has what appears to be a good personality, in that when people meet him he comes across well. His views are honestly held – yet they are views which make many some voters suspicious, allowing the ‘good personality’ to be forgotten in favour of the other one: the raving old leftie (a caricature, but one that sticks).
The sniffer dogs sent to look for Donald Trump’s personality ran away and were never seen again. Their handlers believe they found something too terrible to accept. Yes, Trump has a personality, but what a strange thing it is: thin-skinned, swaggering, insecure and bursting with bluster and ignorance undiminished. His personality is to toxic it has turned his hair a strange shade of yellow.
The biggest personality in British politics belongs to Boris Johnson – and that is not intended as a compliment. His blustering chap patter is a put-up job that should fool no one. Nothing about Boris is cuddly. The search dogs sent to find his personality were given a friendly pat on their head and then kicked when no one was looking.
Thinking further about Mrs Maybe’s robotic personality, the answer suddenly drops into my grateful hands. She has clearly been captured by ransomware just like that which has hijacked computers belonging to the NHS.
Look into her eyes and you will see the warning reflected back: “Oops, your personality has been encrypted.” And that explains why she has been hit by a virus that leaves her smiling awkwardly and repeating the words “Strong and stable” at every opportunity.